• Ivory Coast, Zambia through to AFCON semis

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  • Didier Drogba scored two goals in Ivory Coast's 3-0 win over co-hosts Equatorial Guinea.(Photo courtesy CAF)Didier Drogba scored two goals in Ivory Coast’s 3-0 win over co-hosts Equatorial Guinea.(Photo courtesy CAF)
Feb 05, 2012-

Co-favourites Ivory Coast put on a solid performance and ended the hopes of co-hosts Equatorial Guinea with a resounding 3-0 win in the quarter final of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations 2012 in Malabo.

The Elephants were marauding and showed intent from first whistle with pretty much all play happening in the hosts’ half and penalty box. Equatorial Guinea‘s defence was stretched and it looked a matter of time before the Ivorians scored. Max Gradel should have scored for the Elephants but after a couple of shots on target had been blocked he found himself with a chance but he sent his shot over the cross bar.

Ivorian chance for the opener eventually came in the first half when Didier Zokora went down under a challenge by defender Ben Konate and captain Didier Drogba stepped up to take the penalty. Goalkeeper Danilo saved the sport kick much to the delight of the crowd. Ivorians continued to dominate play and create chances.

Drogba, Yaya Toure, Zokora and Gervinho were threatening each time they had possession. Drogba made amends when he picked up a ball in the box and with a sharp turn beat one defender before cutting back towards goal and shaking off another defender.

The striker created space for himself and shot past Danilo beating him at his near post with a rasping shot. It was just deserves for the dominance by the Elephants. After the break the hosts stepped up play and had Ivorian goalkeeper Boubacar Barry busy.

In one such move the goalkeeper had to beat back into play after Randy connected with a powerful shot. The hosts enjoyed a short spell of domination and took the game to the Ivorians whose defence coped well with what was thrown at it.

Didier Drogba returned to snuff out the bright hopes that Equatorial Guinea was beginning to build with a tremendous goal his and the team’s second. It was vintage Drogba indeed as the striker jumped highest and turning in the air he headed powerfully past Danilo from a Yaya Toure free kick. The ball was in the back of the net before the keeper could move a muscle and the Ivorians were coasting.

The goal was followed by more dominance and pressure from co-favourites as they turned on the performance.

The Ivorians managed to stop the danger from the resultant corner. Yaya Toure made it 3-0 with yet another classy goal on a night the Ivorian star players showed their quality. The midfielder curled in a beauty from a free-kick round the wall and it nested inside Danilo’s left had post.

In the end Equatorial Guinea’s fine run was ended by a classy Ivory Coast and the Elephants marched into the semi-finals where they await the winner of Gabon and Mali clash and the co-hosts can be proud of their achievement at the finals, their first ever.

The Chipolopolos of Zambia sealed a historic place at the last four of the Africa Cup of Nations after beating Sudan 3-0 in an earlier quarter final clash on Saturday in Bata. It was the first time since 1996 that the Zambians had reached the medal zone of the tournament and they needed goals from Sunzu Stoppila, Christopher Katongo and substitute James Chamanga to realize that dream at the expense of a 10-man Sudan team.

The Chipolopolos lived up to their pre-match favourites tag capitalising on the false start of the Sudanese to search for their feet. The Desert Hawks lost their wings in the opening minutes as the Zambians dominated possession with playmaker Rainford Kalaba and lone forward Emmanuel Mayuka making threats at goal.

The Desert Hawks were dealt a major blow with injuries to Yousif Ala Eldin and Hamid Nassir Nazar and they were replaced by Kamal Amir and Agab Ramandan respectively before half time.

Zambia were very effective at the set pieces but Akram kept them at bay with his timely saves. The tide changed in the second half with the Sudanese in control of proceedings. As the game wore on, they were dealt a blow after Ali Saif Eldin fouled Kalaba in the penalty area on 64 minutes. Eldin was given marching off orders for his second yellow card of the game.

Zambia captain Katongo fired the rebound from the spot after Akram parried his initial effort to give his side a comfortable two-goal lead.

The numerical disadvantage had a telling effect on the play of the Sudanese whilst Zambia resorted to an open game. Four minutes from time, Chamanga ended the goal rout with the third goal with a curling shot that Sudan goalie Akram had no answers to. Zambia will face winner of Ghana-Tunisia at the semi final on Wednesday in Bata.

Caf